Here’s another article submitted by one our readers. I think the conclusion is one that a lot of readers grudgingly accept because of the subject’s wide variation in his splits. As before, the writer offers several comps to support his premise.
As always, neither the statistical opinions stated in a submitted article nor the interpretations of same are those of the staff here at Phuture Phillies.
Is Dylan Cozens A Legit Prospect?
I like to use comparable players to gauge a prospect’s profile. I am not a scout and don’t pretend to be one. I look at stats, body type and scouting reports to try to find similar players and then compare their performance at similar ages. Here is my breakdown of Dylan Cozens’ prospect profile…
Dylan has been a lightening rod of a prospect since his high draft spot. He is truly an extreme prospect. Everything he does with the bat is extreme. He has a serious carrying tool in his 80 Raw Power. He is so strong that he doesn’t have to even swing hard to destroy a baseball. When he connects it is a thing of beauty. Majestic. Judge-esq power. It makes you dream…but the question is how that is going to translate against major league pitching.
Dylan is a giant of a man. I have seen him play live in Lakewood and he has a cannon for an arm in right. I saw both him and Tocci in the same outfield and I think Cozens has a stronger arm. I saw him throw a laser beam from right to home plate to get an out. It was very impressive. Cozens moves like a locomotive. I mean that analogy. He is not a fluid athlete, so he does not have great lateral movement, but once he gets going, he can move fast. Like a locomotive. He could probably play defensive outfield in the majors, but he will never be a “good” defensive outfielder at the major league level. In my mind, I was thinking a Pat Burrell type outfielder when I saw him play. Not going to cover a lot of ground, but will throw out guys with that arm. He will also never be a base stealer and no one thinks that he will be a high batting average guy. So the entire profile centers around his raw power translating.
As mentioned above, I looked for comparable players to see how he is performing relatively. Here are a few good comps:
Chris Davis is a strikeout machine. He led the majors in strikeouts in 2016, producing a 32.9% k rate. He also had a 13.2% walk rate and a .239 ISO and overall line of .221/.332/.459. This year his numbers are worse, but let’s go with 2016 as his profile. As a 23 year old in AAA (same age as Cozens) Davis had a 12.9% walk rate, a 20.1% k rate with a .194 ISO and a line of .327/.418/.521.
Compare that to Cozens line this season: 9.9% walk rate, a 34.3% k rate, a .220 ISO and a line of .223/.306/.443. I mean it isn’t close. Davis’ line is far, far superior. But focus on the k rates. In AAA, Davis had a 20% k rate. In the majors that jumped to a career 31.8% k rate. Cozens’ k rate is 2.5% higher in AAA than the MLB strikeout leader has at the MLB level and 14% higher than Davis’ comparable AAA season. Cozens also has a significantly lower walk rate.
As I have mentioned before, it is typical to see a k rate go up 4-6% from AAA to the Majors. Davis is a bit of an outlier as his went up nearly 12%. This 4-6% increase in k rate doesn’t happen all of the time. But it is pretty common. If this trend holds, Cozens is looking at a MLB k rate of nearly 40%. Who has nearly that k rate in the majors? It is very rare to find a major league player with a k rate above 35%. I went back to 2010 and only found it a few times. And even then, no one came close to 40% until this year…Joey Gallo has a 38.6% k rate this year. If that holds, Gallo would have the highest k rate since 2010 (note I didn’t go back further, but my guess is it would be the highest in a long, long time).
As a 23 year old in the majors Joey Gallo has the worst K rate in the majors. Here is Gallo’s line: 12.8 % walk rate, 38.6 % k rate, a .341 ISO (2nd in all baseball) with a batting line of .205/.318/.546. As a 22 year old, (a year younger than Cozens), Gallo’s AAA line was: 15.7% walk rate, 34.6 % k rate, .290 ISO, with a batting line of .240/.367/.529
So comparing Cozens’ AAA line to a year younger Gallo’s line, Gallo walked in 6.8% more plate appearances, struck out the same amount and Gallo had a 70 point higher ISO. Simply put, Cozens is Gallo with materially fewer walks and materially less in game power. What does that look like at the major league level? My guess is a hitter that has a line of .210/.280/.520, which produces a .800 OPS, that will strike out nearly 40% of the time. You can count on one hand the major league players with an .800 (or lower) OPS who strikes out 30% of the time. Of course, none strikeout 40% k rate. Cut the sample size down to Corner Outfielders, and the comparables looks even more bleak. If you focus on the 30% k rate benchmark, the player you are looking at is Kris Davis, on the As. His line this year is 11.3% walk rate, 31.6% k rate, .263 ISO, for a batting line of .238/.325/.500. In AAA, Kris had a 11.0% walk rate, 21.0% k rate, a .218 ISO and a line of .255/.349/.473. Comparing Kris Davis’ major league stats to Cozens’ AAA stats, Cozens has a lower walk rate, a significantly higher k rate while hitting with less power. That is to Davis’ major league stats. Comparing Cozens to Davis’ AAA stats and it is a blowout. Cozens has a lower walk rate, and a 13.3% higher k rate. Think about that for a second. It is astounding.
How about one more comp. As a 21 year old in AAA, Adam Dunn had a line of .329/.441/.676 with a k rate of 20% and a walk rate of 15%. Dunn was 2 years younger than Cozens’ AAA year and his statistical profile absolutely destroys Cozens’. I mean, not one stat is close. Dunn went on to have a career MLB K rate of 28.6%. Which is 5.7% lower than Cozens’ AAA k rate. Again, this blows my mind. When you think about Adam Dunn as a player, you think a true two outcome player – homers or strikeouts. Yet Cozens is striking out 5.7% more in AAA than Dunn did at the major league level.
Ok one last comp. Ryan Howard, a strikeout machine, had a career k rate of 28.2%. Ryan fricken Howard had a major league k rate 6% lower than Cozens’ AAA line.
Ok, I have made my point. I keep looking for extremes and I simply can’t find anyone who struggles to make contact with the baseball at the rate that Cozens’ does. That player just doesn’t exist in the major leagues. And that is the point. It is just too hard to make an impact if you don’t put the ball in play 40% of the time. Heck, it is hard to stick around if you don’t put the ball in play 30% of the time, especially as a corner outfielder.
Oh, I almost forgot, Cozens can’t hit left handed pitching. He has struggled against left handed pitching in the upper levels. So in all likelihood, he would be a platoon player with that line.
Now, I am 99% confident that Cozens will get a cup of coffee. And it is certainly possible that he runs into enough balls as a platoon to hang around for a few years. He will definitely make it on Sports Center with a big blast. But unless he can somehow dramatically lower his k rate, while facing far better pitching than he saw in AAA, then he doesn’t seem to have a major league comp of even a below average regular.
What’s the “hope” scenario? While it is possible that he dramatically lowers his k rate, it is extremely unlikely if you use MLB history as a guide. Very few players have a lower k rate in the majors than in the minors. And as you saw in all of the comps, it is far more likely with someone of his profile to see their K rate jump dramatically when getting to the majors. So the hope scenario is that he maintains his AAA k rate, while materially increasing his walk rate and also his in game power and becomes Joey Gallo. A player with an .860 OPS who strikes out 39% of the time and is average defensively. It seems like a low probability outcome to me, but anything is possible.